Campaign of the Month: March 2016
Ptolus, City by the Spire
DOCKS: Far below the level of the city streets, the Docks rest at the bottom of the Cliffs of Lost Wishes on a narrow, sandy strip of land. A dozen ships moor in the deep waters here at any given time—sometimes far more than that. This is a particularly rough area of the city, thanks to the influx of sailors and the district’s remoteness from the rest of Ptolus.
GUILDSMAN DISTRICT: This is where much of the city’s commerce takes place. Most local guilds have their headquarters here in the Guildsman District. Here you will find the city’s largest breweries, tanneries, the Foundry, and the Stockyards. It also contains such strange places as the Darkbirth Madhouse and the Midden Heaps.
MIDTOWN: If Ptolus has a heart (though most would say that it doesn’t), it is Midtown. This is the crossroads of Ptolus, where common folks rub shoulders with the not-so-common, where everyone goes in order to get anywhere else, and where all newcomers to the city inevitably end up first. Midtown is the most cosmopolitan area of what is almost certainly the most cosmopolitan city in the world. Adventurers seek out Delver’s Square.
NECROPOLIS: In many ways, the Necropolis is the least typical district in Ptolus. In fact, it’s strange to even call it a “district.” It has no shops and no homes. It’s really just the city’s cemetery. But, as with so many things in Ptolus, there’s much more to it than that.
NOBLES’ QUARTER: The wealthy of the city live atop the highest cliffs in Ptolus. The intrigues among the nobles drive a fair bit of the action in Ptolus. Aside from the traditional noble estates, don’t miss the very strange Castle Shard and the Holy Palace.
NORTH MARKET: One of two markets in Ptolus, the North Market is known for its open-air stalls more than its workshops. Those interested in the technology of the Empire should check out the Smoke Shop, and shoppers can always take a break and have a drink at the Red Stallion Pub.
OLDTOWN: As the name implies, this is the oldest part of the city. Today Oldtown serves as the center for all local administrative needs. You’ll find the fortress of Dalenguard here, as well as the Administration Building, the Imperial University, and the City Library.
RIVERGATE DISTRICT: Although primarily a residential district, the Rivergate section of Ptolus still offers many interesting locales to visit. Two of them are the Barbarian Balloonists and Finelle’s Pleasant Diversions.
SOUTH MARKET: The South Market offers more shops than open markets, as well as a number of commodities markets and workshops. The Golden Tooth offers wares for those with a taste for gold. But there’s more in this district than just shops. Check out the gambling den known as the Cock Pit.
TEMPLE DISTRICT: Teeming with churches, shrines, and the headquarters of various religious orders, the Temple District is a strange hodgepodge of good and evil. The Priory of Introspection is found here, as is St. Valien’s Cathedral.
THE WARRENS: The smallest district in Ptolus is also the worst. The Warrens holds the city’s slums, a place as lawless and dangerous as one might fear.
(See the Big Map for more detailed reference)
The Spire, Ptolus’ most obvious and recognizable landmark, is visible from almost any point in town, rising three thousand feet into the air at the city’s western edge. But even without the Spire, Ptolus remains an extremely vertical place.
At the highest and westernmost point of the city proper atop the Jeweled Cliffs lies the Nobles’ Quarter. One of the newer areas of town, it is built on the highest major shelf alongside the Spire’s base. Below that is, ironically, the oldest part of town, called Oldtown. Built around the ancient fortress of Dalenguard, Oldtown is not as high in elevation as the Nobles’ Quarter but it still overlooks the rest of the city. One must pass through the gates of Dalenguard to begin the climb to the Nobles’ Quarter; this is the only approach.
The King’s River cuts through the center of town, flowing east to empty into the Bay of Ptolus. The river comes into town from the north and west, cutting a wide swath north of Oldtown called the King’s River Gorge. The gorge separates Oldtown from a small residential district to the northeast called Rivergate. At the end of the gorge, the river plummets down two hundred feet in a tall waterfall, to flow more gently and toward the bay within narrower and more modest banks. The King’s River, which effectively cuts the city in half, is spanned by no fewer than twelve bridges.
Dalen’s Cliffs, the defensible ridge upon which Oldtown was built, rise almost two hundred feet above the rest of the city. A wide, man-made ramp along the Emperor’s Road extends for four hundred feet from these heights down into the city center.
South of Oldtown lies the South Market district. North of the river and east of Rivergate is the North Market, which is far more open and chaotic than its southern counterpart. Sandwiched between the two markets and due east of Oldtown is the largest of the city’s districts, called Midtown. Southeast of Midtown is the smoke-filled Guildsman District, which extends all the way down to the cliffs overlooking the Bay of Ptolus. Wedged in just northeast of the Guildsman District and south of the King’s River at the cliffs’ edge is the small and dangerous slum known as the Warrens.
Northeast of Midtown and south of the North Market lies the Temple District, with its infamous Street of a Million Gods. East of the Temple District at the northeastern corner of town lies the city’s vast cemetery, the Necropolis, which sits atop the cliffs. In most sections of the city, the river rushes through its narrow channel one hundred feet or more below the street level. It eventually empties into the Bay of Ptolus in another grand waterfall just south of the thin strip of land at the bottom of the cliffs where the Docks lie. These grand Cliffs of Lost Wishes, which run along the city’s shoreline, rise over five hundred feet above the crashing waves below. A winding path carved into the cliff side connects the Docks with the rest of the city. It is well over two miles from the western edge of the Nobles’ Quarter to the cliffs above the bay. On a clear day, as the sun sets in the west, you can tell the time by the length of the shadow the impossibly tall Spire casts upon Ptolus.